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High levels of E. coli not found in Horry County landfill; officials investigating further

CCU testing for E. Coli

Danielle Viso, Coastal Carolina University's environmental quality lab operations manager grab a sample of water to test for E. Coli on April 14. Alex Brizee/Staff

HORRY COUNTY — The Horry County Solid Waste Authority debunked a blogger's report of high levels of E. coli in its retention ponds.

County government officials were told at an April 13 infrastructure and regulation meeting that there might be high levels of E. coli in the retention ponds of the landfill.

By April 19, the county proved the allegations were not true.

While there was one site which reported a medium-high E. coli reading, all of the other sites were substantially lower than the unverified report.

"We do not currently have a reason to believe that this outfall directly impacts the water quality of Sterritt Swamp or the Waccamaw River," said Kelly Moore, county spokesperson. "Ultimately, it is premature, and inappropriate to draw conclusions from one or two pieces of data. As such, this review will continue until the concerns are addressed."

In addition, Moore said that Coastal Carolina University confirmed that seagulls droppings can shed high amounts of E. coli, which could be impacting the water readings. 

The county is working with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and water quality experts at CCU, Moore said, to make sure the landfill is meeting water quality standards and that the water along S.C. 90 at Sterritt Swamp is not impacted. 

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Local blogger David Hucks told solid waste and county officials at the April 13 meeting that a whistleblower told him there was high quantities of E. coli in the retention ponds.

Hucks was not able to grab samples himself, so he received the samples from the whistleblower and got them tested. He said he felt it was best to bring the issue before county officials before publishing a story. 

Councilman Al Allen devised a plan that involved testing the retention ponds themselves as a county. The samples from Hucks could not be verified, as Hucks did not take them himself.

On April 14, Horry County officials, Sgt. Heather Wilson along with some additional officers and Coastal Carolina University officials took samples abd ultimately tested them at CCU. Danielle Viso, CCU's environmental quality lab operations manager, executed the testing at four different locations. 

CCU testing for E. Coli

Danielle Viso, Coastal Carolina University's environmental quality lab operations manager grab a sample of water to test for E. Coli on April 14. Alex Brizee/Staff

The samples were immediately put on ice and were taken back to CCU to be tested. 

Due to a quality control issue, the samples had to be re-tested and were re-sampled on April 15, Moore said in an email.

Reach Alex Brizee at 843-637-9881. Follow her on Twitter @alexbrizee. 

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